Posts Tagged ‘Focus’

Before I start on the main subject of this post, I thought I’d ask a question of you, my Followers of Fear: how are you? You doing well?

Hey, it’s a pandemic and the world seems to get crazier every day. Might as well ask. Let’s talk in the comments below.

Anyway, you see that title? Inspiration, Motivation, Focus, Consistency. They’re more than just words. In fact, I think they’re why I’ve had such a crazy output of stories since November, including two novels.

Inspiration. This isn’t just limited to ideas for stories to write. Yeah, you want to have stories that excite you and that you think will excite others to read as much as it excites you to write them, but you also want inspiration for your drive. Let me explain: since Rose came out more than a year ago, I’ve heard from so many people who’ve enjoyed reading the book. I’ve had the pleasure of signing copies and talking to people about it, and even meeting the narrator of the audio book!

Being able to share my work with people, and knowing that they like it and even want to read more, is a huge inspiration for me. Imagining what someone might say for Rose or another story inspires me to sit in the chair at my desk and pound away at the keyboard on the laptop.

Motivation. If inspiration comes from knowing that people liked Rose and want to read more, then motivation is making sure I can do it again. I’m motivated to prove to the world that I’m not a one-book author (or one book by a publisher and four books published independently). This is another reason why I sit down in front of the computer every evening.

It’s also a good motivator for me to spend more time reading and less time streaming TV or anime, even though that is fun. I’m reading authors who have gotten their stories published—sometimes a few, sometimes many—and I’m thinking to myself, “Why did this story get published? Why does this work? What can I learn from this to improve my own stories?” And I think it works. At the very least, even the rejections come with good feedback more often than not.

Getting to meet Sara Parlier and discuss the book we worked on together was a great inspiration.

Focus. I always set a goal in mind for when I’m working on a story. When it’s writing, I try to get around 500 words down on paper, and everything after that is icing on the cake. For editing, I aim for at least three pages, and again, everything afterwards is icing on the cake. They’re simple goals, but more often than not they work. And at some point, a switch usually flips and I end up getting way more done than just those goals above. So, it works.

Consistency. None of the above three work unless you’re doing them often, though, and I’ve noticed the productive authors are always the ones who are doing them often. I tell people that a time fairy isn’t going to come to grant you time to write or meditate or exercise. You have to carve out the time yourself. It may take away from watching Netflix, but those shows will always be there waiting for you. The goals you’re trying to achieve? They won’t be there unless you make them a priority.

And you don’t have to go crazy in being consistent. A gradual build is good as well. I didn’t start writing most nights out of nowhere, I had to build up that habit over time. And it may take a lot more time than you want to build up the habit. But that’s okay. Trying too much too soon may overwhelm you, so it’s better to take it slow and build up your stamina so you can eventually be as consistent as you want to be.

Inspiration, Motivation, Focus, Consistency. They’re not always easy to find or build, but when you gather them together and use them, you can accomplish amazing things (and not just writing, either). How you go about finding them is up to you. But once you have them, you’ll be amazed at how hard it is to let them go. And just how much they improve your life.

 

So that’s all for tonight, my Followers of Fear. I’m deep in researching and outlining, so I’ll get back to that. In the meantime, stay safe, ask your doctor if demonic possession is right for you, and until next time, pleasant nightmares!

Oh, and since I mentioned it, I’ll post the links for Rose down below. If you haven’t read it yet and would like to check it out, please do. And if you enjoy what you read, leave a review online and let me know. I love reader feedback, and it helps me out in the long run. Enjoy!

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible

Well, I’ve returned from Germany, my Followers of Fear. All in three pieces (don’t ask about the other two, you won’t like the answer). It’s good to be home, to say the least. A little weird after so long, but still very good. I enjoyed seeing my parents and my sister waiting for me at the airport and teaching them naughty German swear words (and my parents are rabbis, by the way. Scandalous!).

Of course, now that I’m back that doesn’t mean I can just slack off and do whatever I want. I’ve got a number of things on my to-do list today, and while I’m working to get those done, I’m taking a moment to talk about writing. Specifically, what are three qualities that writers need to actually write and get work done?

And I mean besides the actual imagination to come up with a story and the ability to transfer that story from the mind to the printed page. Not only does that go without saying, but a lot of people have very active imaginations and can write well enough that if they tried they could come up with a very good first draft. So why don’t they? What keeps people from actually acting out that writing dream?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since yesterday, when I spoke with someone on the final leg of my journey home who had tried writing but found himself unable to do it. I found myself wondering why that is, and I think part of why some people can write and some find themselves struggling to do so may stem from three needed qualities or skill sets: confidence, focus, and perseverance.

Now by confidence I don’t mean confidence that your story is going to succeed and will make tons of money. I mean confidence that you can actually get it done, that you can write out an entire story from start to end. Never mind whether it’s any good, first drafts are notoriously terrible because that’s how they’re supposed to be. You have to have the confidence that you can get that first draft done, and then maybe we can talk about the next draft and everything else that comes from that.

Think about it: even if you prefer to only work on short stories, that fitting an entire story in a space between a thousand and ten-thousand words. Even to me, that’s a little daunting, and I’ve become much better at writing short stories over the years (though I could always be better). Imagine how it might feel for someone who wants to write a novel but then finds out that a novel is at least sixty-thousand words! You can’t just say to yourself, “I’ll try and see where it gets me” when it comes to this sort of task. You have to have some confidence in yourself and that you can get all those words out on the page.

Otherwise you may falter around three-thousand words when you realize that getting a story out is not as easy as you think and may not be able to continue from there.

Another thing writers need to get work done is focus. You have to be able to focus on a project and get the work done. The person I spoke to yesterday on my flight told me this was his problem: he tried writing a story, but in the midst of writing that story he would come up with another story and then want to work on that, and his first story would languish. Then he’d have an idea for a third story and want to work on that, and then he’d have two stories being put on the shelf for later. So the cycle went and he had projects that just never got done.

Even if you juggle multiple projects at once, like I do (three novels at various stages of the editing process, one collection of short stories on the way, working to find a narrator for an audio book, etc), you have to be able to sit down and focus on one project for an extended period of time. Maybe even months or years. And other projects may demand to be written (believe me, I’ve got lists of story ideas, and some are pretty vocal in my head about wanting to be written), but you have to get some out of the way first before you can focus on others. Better to have just a few projects at most to work on and several ideas waiting to be turned into stories than a lot of projects just lying about not even a quarter of the way finished because they all demand to be written.

And this brings us to our final quality: perseverance. It’s an understatement at the very least to say that life is not easy. Take my life, for instance: I’m trying to ensure I have a job so I don’t become a bum in my dad’s guestroom, I have bills to pay, tasks on my to-do list to do, etc. So many demands that it’s hard to find time to write or edit. And when it comes to doing either, especially at the beginning of a project, I may sometimes have trouble getting the work done. All those words can make it hard to getting it all done.

Without these qualities, writing can feel like a Sisyphean feat.

To write, you have to accept that you have to work through all those difficulties before you can get through all those stories, and then do it. It’s never easy, and life will find ways to get in the way. Even when it does, you have to be willing to get through what life throws at you and then sit down and get through all the writing and editing and everything else you have to do. If not, then those stories you feel so passionate about will languish for so long you may never pick them up.

It’s these three qualities–confidence, focus, and perseverance–that make the difference between those who want to write and those who actually go out and do it. Each of us struggles with them at times–focus in the short term can be troubling for me–but in the end I think those who can command these qualities are the ones who can at least get the stories written out and polish them enough for publication.

But what do you think? Have I got the right of it? Did I miss something? Did any of these speak to you? Let’s discuss.

In the meantime, I have to focus on the other things on my to-do list like visiting the dry-cleaner’s the barber shop, and persevere through cold and possible rains at the same time. Still I’m confident I can do it, so I’m not too worried.

Still, wish me luck. I might need it later.